Toning down from Violin Playing

June 16, 2017, 4:51 PM · Hello, since I've had a second shoulder surgery in my left shoulder, I have really enjoyed playing violins.

Before I knew it, it's been over 4 years.

Right now, I am a graduate student in Physics, during my stay at CERN, I had to leave my violin behind, and I'm realizing that although I enjoy playing violins very much, I am realizing that it is a LOT less important to me than my career right now. I am also realizing that sometimes my schedules runs from 7am until 10pm at work, and weekends I spend on maintaining my health. I really do not mind this lifestyle, and I miss playing my violin, but right now, I think a brand new, good laptop would serve me better.

I've decided to start downsizing in supplies and bows.

It is likely that I will keep my violin, case and a bow, but I am probably going to sell all of my spare strings, and my relatively newly bought JonPaul Vetta.

I'm not quite sure who I should approach in terms of sales. I did buy and sell locally on kijiji, but when dealing with Vetta bow for example, considering its value, I'm not sure exactly where I should be advertising(ebay is an option, but I need to review their everchanging selling policy).

Would some of you send me to the right pointer? I call Ottawa, ON, Canada home in terms of making sales.

Also, would some of you tell me if you decided to put the violin away for some years and came back to it?

Replies (37)

June 16, 2017, 5:17 PM · Please PM me regarding the JonPaul (don't worry, my contact button works). :)

But yours needs an update... :)

Edited: June 16, 2017, 7:25 PM · Yes I put my violin away for 36 years, and returned to it when the cello became too cumbersome to haul around. My advice to you is, career is not everything in life...:)
Edited: June 16, 2017, 7:21 PM · 7am to 10pm, sounds like the Japanese work schedule.

They have a word for side effects of that: Karoshi, go look it up.

I travel on business to Japan frequently, and although it's somewhat interesting to spend a week or two throwing myself into the work (Im a laser engineer, so it is interesting), I much prefer a real life, working to live, not living to work.

I also always bring my viola along with me to unwind and keep my sanity.

June 16, 2017, 7:22 PM · What are you asking for the Vetta?
June 17, 2017, 12:16 AM · This work schedule sounds typically Cern. I remember sleeping in the office there, too.
This is a short peak (and has to be if you dont want to burn out), in one or two years your head will propably be available for the violin again.
Reduce your equipment only so, that you can still play, my advice.
After 20 years of playing I had a two year break. I played at a very close and unexpected funeral and just could not touch the violin again for a very long time. But even with this history I came back and you will propably too.
Good luck with your thesis!
But even w
Edited: June 17, 2017, 8:20 AM · I dont know your age, but if you are under 30-35, dont get rid of your stuff.


On the rithim you describe, ether you will give up on physics when you realize 90+% of it is complete bullshit (publishing any crap you come across to increase your h factor), or you will settle in a higher position and will have minions doing the shitty work for you.

Either way you will be back at fiddling

June 17, 2017, 1:53 AM · Paul, I'm not exactly sure on the starting point of what to ask for, but what I'd like is to get a new laptop and its upgrade out of it. We can talk privately about it if you'd like.

Bruno, I am 26, and yes, I know what you're talking about. I do ponder about my career here and there as well, especially while talking to my colleagues who have been in the field for over a decade and more. I am well aware, but let's not talk about that so publicly.

Marc and Craig, I am not doing that so far. It's just that at this point of my career, I am putting my hand up at everything that I can contribute toward. I actually am enjoying learning and the work itself. I do wish to wind down with my violin here, but looking at my work and travel schedule, I'll maybe get to play it once a week.

June 17, 2017, 5:51 AM · @Craig First

The Japanese work schedule is much harsher than that, especially for engineers and lawyers. From what I've seen, karoshi is more than long hours. The environment, bullying and stress from social responsibility has a hand in it as well.

I'm a self-professed workaholic. The feeling that comes from working long hours for a job you love is different from a job you need.

@OP good on you for keeping one of your violins. I too stopped my studies once I entered college and then grad school to become a chemist. After ten years I realized that it was a bit of a mistake. I put so much emphasis on my career that I ended up being all work and little play. I hope you're able to find some time on the weekends to play or start a new creative hobby that requires less of your time.

Congrats and hats off to you, though.

June 17, 2017, 6:10 AM · OP obviously ignored my post. I would like to hear from him again when he is 75 years old! Thank you Bon QuiQui for your confirmation.
June 17, 2017, 6:14 AM · I could have written what Bon wrote. Now that I am on the other side, advising grad students, I am trying to work against the idea that one should have to walk through a minefield to earn a PhD. The problem is that students are ultimately competing against those wIlling to do so. It's our job as professors -- and it's a great but very hard job, one that I'm not claiming to have mastered -- to help students learn how to do more interesting work and get better results with less effort. Some fields and research problems are just more Edisonian than others.

Steven send me email -- you know how to find me -- to discuss bow.

June 17, 2017, 6:30 AM · Erin, I did not ignore your post. I just wrote my reply half asleep.
I do agree with you in terms of that career isn't everything for me, but I'm at the stage as Paul mentioned, where I am competing against a lot of people who are willing to give things up for it.

Not to mention that my personal life has been destroyed before I came to CERN, and I do think I'll focus on one thing in life for the time being. It's a bit ironic, previous to Academia, military destroyed my personal life, now academia is doing that to me.

I fully appreciate what you're trying to tell me, and I do want to have a life outside of my career, but it has always turned into some sort of terrible burden I care not to repeat.

I just miss the practice everyday routine, and now I am realizing that as I go on, I'll get one practice per week, if that.

Paul, I tried getting to your contact button for private messaging, but I think the site upgrade might have reset the field, because I get blank page.

Bon, what I mean by focusing on my health over the weekend means mental and physical. I've been slowly leaving tracks on the alps, looking at some of the most amazing terrain I got to see in pictures.

June 17, 2017, 6:55 AM · I am glad I don't pursue "careers." Can't imagine life without my violin-friend. That said, it is YOUR choice, and what makes YOU happy, so follow your heart and dreams.

One hour per week is better than nothing, but progress will be so slow it will be hard to keep advancing your technique, let alone learning newer, longer, and more difficult works. Not being critical, of course-it's your life and own happiness-but more a fair sort of "warning."

Regardless, best of luck with your career and goals.

Edited: June 17, 2017, 8:43 AM · Man, don't fool yourself. The academic system is broken. It is not worth investing so much in it. And don't be romantic about it - there is absolutely no meritocracy in this profession as well. You can work as hard as you want, and without going for a beer with the right people in the end of the day, you will still be a pawn.

I am a part of it, and everyday I have more and more the feeling that we have failed with the younger generations.

I see lots of PhD and post-docs passing through my lab and -surprise, surprise - they have little or no chance. They are just disposable like the plastic cups by the water cooler. Most of them end up in the industry after having kids in the end of 5 years jumping from post-doc to post-doc.

Don't get me wrong. Academia is very satisfying and a rather rewarding career path. I just think that it is not worth the sacrifice anymore.

Edited: June 17, 2017, 9:56 AM · Steven if you just type my name into google with "chemistry" you'll come to my email address very quickly. Meanwhile I'll try to update my contact info here. I think one of the general complaints about this sight is that the contact info is often not updated and the contact button does not always work.

Bruno wrote, "Most of them end up in the industry." That's how it's supposed to work. We're not supposed to be generating legions of mini-me's.

June 17, 2017, 10:13 AM · Actually the only other science group working on the same subject as mine is Japanese and we have a lot of them comming to us and we have a lot of us travel there. The amount of working time put into it is the same!
Altough I agree on the postdoc part. I was very lucky to get one of the few permanent science jobs and yes, I had to publish a lot of papers for it, making the time having for each short sometimes forcing mistakes, that I corrected later on.
It can be interesting but the time where you sacrifice should not be long. Today my job is half doing work myself, have supervising post docs, and I feel bad for most of them.
June 17, 2017, 11:17 AM · No comment on the career part. I rather reserve my opinion out of public website.

Paul I will do that later Today.

Honestly, Violin has had one of the lower priority. I enjoy it, I love it, but it's not something I can't live without. Right now, having lived without it for almost a month, I am okay without it.

June 17, 2017, 11:30 AM · Giving up on violinist.com, joining particlesmashers.com forums?
June 17, 2017, 12:05 PM · haha, oh no, that comes after I sell off Socia, which I hope never happens.
June 17, 2017, 7:25 PM · Ah, I see what you mean. Whatever it is that helps you relax and de-stress from work, go for it. Everybody needs that no matter what career they choose.
June 17, 2017, 8:22 PM · Steven, don't ditch your fiddle. If you have several and want to simplify, keep your favorite violin and favorite bow. Although true already, here is the summary of my speech to be given at my 100th birthday party: "I've not lived a long life, but rather many short ones. But there have been a few things that connect them...."
June 18, 2017, 12:11 AM · I never understood the multifiddle/bow part in the first place.
If I have MY fiddle/bow thats what I play, no need to change trough equipment.
June 18, 2017, 12:39 PM · Often extra bows came from greed, and extra violin(s) came for travel/outdoor events and etc.
June 18, 2017, 2:35 PM · Steven,

I had a 12 year stint with Bell Labs that had me quite busy and I only, infrequently, pulled out my violin and played some tunes no serious stuff at all. I sold my "good" instrument and kept the family instrument more for sentimental reasons. Then the job with the Labs came to an end, I shifted to much less intense company till I retired and did start playing again.

Age and health issues have made playing with a community orchestra less than workable for me but I still play for myself and have a few students for basic level instruction (teaching basics keeps me grounded). I also assist with a Youth Orchestra.

I'll be that there are more than a few musicians at CERN, just like there were at the Labs. My guess is that when you finally settle in your violin may be a ticket to getting to know some of your fellow scientists on a different level.

The beauty of strings is that you can come back if/when you want to. I'm 70 now and I still get a great deal of pleasure from my daily time with my violin. It was never my career, just a part of what makes me who I am. All you need to keep is an instrument that you really like, a good bow or two (I have two) and the basics to maintain the instrument. Pull it out occasionally and just play for yourself and the love of music.

June 18, 2017, 2:47 PM · Thank you George for your advice. I have met at CERN a banjo player, a a guitar player and a violin player. I would love to meet someone with a violin here however. It's teasing me because I started a conversation with a lady the other day just because she was carrying a violin for her child.
Edited: June 18, 2017, 5:54 PM · you will come back once you hit mid-life crisis. Yung called it Enantiodromia.
Why either-or? What stops you from playing in a chamber group or local community orchestra?
June 20, 2017, 10:57 AM · Rocky, I've had my early life crisis, and it ended up in a major shift(s) in career. I think my middle life crisis will be more intense that.

What stops me from playing in local groups?
1. My violin doesn't travel with me often, as I have my laptop as the number 1 precious cargo for work.
2. I don't have enough time to practice now as it is.
3. I am yet to find a group.
There is a club here at CERN, but the monthly membership fee would buy me a decent laptop each month.

June 20, 2017, 12:11 PM · There are many musicians at Cern ;)
I usually carry my laptop in my violin case btw.
June 20, 2017, 1:16 PM · Perhaps you can arrange with Lord Feverstone at the National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments for additional time to practice during your lunch break?
July 12, 2017, 1:54 PM · It turns out that one of my supervisors here in U.K.(I'm in Cambridge now) could lend me a violin during my stay here.
July 12, 2017, 2:19 PM · Don't sell your main instrument or bow, you'll surely come back to it. And you always get less selling than you pay buying... I've never seen the economics of instrument rationalisation to be very rational. Ditch the clutter though.
July 13, 2017, 9:45 AM · If you have been playing for this long, do not sell your instrument. I did not play for 10 years, and prior to that played sporadically for two (all thanks to undergrad/work/grad school/work again) and have returned to playing. I was fine not playing (as without regular practice, I was frustrated with my skill-loss), but once I started playing again it was like the missing piece was found. My parents tried to convince me over and over to sell my violin, and I insisted that it was MY violin and there was no way I could part with it.

If you can afford a once per week practice: do it. It's better than not playing at all.

July 13, 2017, 10:58 AM · I have to say... After 2 months, my ears are still sharp, but my fingers aren't, probably because I didn't clip the fingernails probably. I'll try again Tomorrow.

I don't intend to sell my main instrument or my wood bow. The wood bow was hand-picked, and I know that weeks-long process to find something like it in the future.

July 13, 2017, 2:05 PM · Even if you can pick up the violin for 5 minutes a day, it will help you retain a portion of your skill. Dropping it entirely can lead to a painful return, as I can personally attest to.
Edited: July 13, 2017, 5:34 PM · Start with 5 minutes per day. If you can gradually work up to 30 minutes per day you will be surprised what you can achieve. Anything is better than nothing.

Yoga may help.

July 15, 2017, 12:49 PM · Just a little bit curious, what level would you say being able to play this slowly is?
Paganini Sonata 6
Edited: July 16, 2017, 5:25 AM · The music reminds me an old Korean drama "Hourglass" in which the beginning portion was used in many scenes...

I would roughly put the level a couple of notches below Bruch.

p.s. I tried to use the Korean characters, but it does not seem to work. Perhaps this site does not support Far Eastern character set?

p.p.s. The violin in your link is not exactly my liking. Sounds too maudlin to me.

July 16, 2017, 3:50 AM · Well, that's the last piece I was learning before the 2 months break.

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